Meet some of the new candidates standing in the local election

Some new faces are looking to shake things up on May 6th

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By Natalie Bloomer

There are lots of familiar names in the list of candidates standing for election on May 6th but there also some new ones. Today we hear from some of them about the issues that matter to them and why they wanted to get involved in politics.

Mark Hughes, 27

Conservatives - Headlands, Northampton

“I’ve lived in Hackleton in Northamptonshire for about 11 years and before that I lived in Milton Keynes. I’ve always been passionate about politics and have wanted to get more involved for a long time. 

It was important to me that I had some life experience before I stood for election, and now feels like the right time. Environmental issues and economic growth are very important to me, I want to help create local jobs in the area which have environmental benefits.

I also think it’s really important to work with the local community and build a real community spirit. I want to find alternative ways of doing things, not just stick with the status quo. 

Although this is my first time standing in an election I have previously been involved in campaigning for the party. At a national level David Cameron was a bit of an inspiration for me, his fresh approach and his move away from the more traditional idea of the Conservatives really appealed to me as a young man. His Big Society approach and the ‘Vote Blue, Go Green’ message were ideas I could get behind. 

On a local level Andrea Leadsom and her leadership bid really energised me and made me more keen to get involved in politics.”

Matthew McNicholas, 21

Labour - Riverside Park, Northampton

“I’m an autistic 21-year-old swimming teacher with a passion for politics.

A common, but seldom discussed, part of being autistic is often experiencing a strong sense of justice. A common misconception is that autistic folk struggle with empathy. Both of these facts go hand in hand. For me, when I see something is unjust, or I hear of someone in a difficult situation, the feelings can be overwhelming. Often the feeling is of helplessness. As just an average person there is usually very little I am able to do to help someone with whatever difficulties they might be facing.

As a councillor, I believe I will be able to genuinely make a difference. Northampton’s residents have been catastrophically failed by a bankrupt county council and negligent borough council. Young people are all but losing faith in the very principle of local government, across the country but especially in Northampton.

I hope to offer something different. I’m a young, disabled candidate, intent on representing all - especially the young, disabled residents who are so poorly represented in all areas of government. Yes, local government is about making sure bins are collected, that potholes are handled well, that the town isn’t strewn with litter, all of which are legitimate failings of our current council. But I believe being a councillor can mean more than that when it needs to. From fighting for improved access in residential areas for those who struggle to climb the steps to reach their properties, to ensuring that safe and engaging children’s and youth services are receiving outstanding OFSTED inspections, not inadequate ones.

Riverside Park is going to be a tough race to win, there is no doubt about that. After decades of Tory representation, this diverse area deserves better. I hope I can get my message through to the people of Little Billing, Standens Barn, Wakes Meadow, Weston Favell, and Abington Vale. I hope they vote for change on May 6th.”

Emily Fedorowycz, 26

Greens - Clover Hill, Kettering

“During the day I work for a publishing business but for the last couple of years I’ve spent evenings and weekends as a community activist, doing things like litter picking and getting involved with local campaigns.

I've lived in Kettering all my life and felt that the town and the politics here were becoming stagnant but I knew there was so much potential. I attended so many council meetings and the demographic was usually much older, there were very few voices for young people. 

Standing in the election is both terrifying and exhilarating. I have never been this excited about anything before. Becoming more involved with the Greens has changed me as a person, it has been great to get out and speak to local people. It's really rewarding to find out about the problems people have and work on ways to solve them.

Since the campaign to save Weekley Hall Wood, people in Kettering have become much more aware of planning applications and they are raising these as an issue on the doorstep - they are worried about losing green space. 

We’re feeling really optimistic, if we can get even one Green councillor elected in North Northamptonshire it would be phenomenal.”

Rosie Humphries, 57 

Lib Dems -  Braunston and Crick

“I’ve always supported the Liberal Democrats but I was drawn to become more involved in politics after the Brexit referendum. I felt I no longer wanted to be a bystander, I needed to do something rather than just shout at the TV. 

I joined the Daventry party and as time went on I was encouraged by colleagues to stand as a councillor. 

I worked and volunteered for Citizens Advice for a number of years and I saw that unfairness in society was becoming more apparent. If I can do something, in even the smallest way, to remedy that I want to try. 

Standing as a candidate has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone but I’ve loved canvassing and we’ve been really encouraged by the response we’re getting. People want to engage and we’ve some very interesting conversations. 

The state of the roads and the financial crisis at Northamptonshire County Council are things that come up repeatedly, we’ve heard from a number of people who used to vote Conservative but say they will be backing us this time. People want change, it’s an exciting time to be getting involved.”

Maggie Clubley, 63

Conservative - Towcester and Roade  

“I was born in a small village just outside Towcester and lived there for many years. I moved out of the area because I was working in the insurance world, both nationally and globally. After taking early retirement I moved back to Towcester because it is where my family and friends are. 

I've always had an interest in local politics and when I came back to Towcester I took a position working in the constituency office of Andrea Leadsom. I picked up a lot more knowledge of local issues and decided that standing as a councillor was an opportunity to give something back. 

There's lots of issues I want to push locally. We have a big problem with infrastructure here, there’s a real need for a bypass because the traffic is horrendous and the air quality is not good at all. Additional school places, health care and dental services are also needed.

There's lots that I want to get stuck into. Towcester hasn’t really had a voice on the council in Northamptonshire so it's really important for us to get in here. It’s good to see new candidates standing, I think it's important to have some fresh faces and bring new voices on board that will challenge things.”

Harry Barrett, 32

Labour - Kingsthorpe South, Northampton

“Having seen first hand the gap between rich and poor multiply over the past 10 years and with deprivation levels in Northampton increasing, I know that change is needed and in part, this is why I am standing to be elected for Kingsthorpe South.

Our children are getting a bad deal, they’re going to school hungry, they’re leaving school with no community provision to boost their social and emotional mental well being. Being an assistant head teacher, I’ve seen this regularly and the trend is rising each year. Why are the next generation so low on the priority list?

If I’m elected, I’ll champion the outcomes for our young people, promote opportunity and ensure they are given the best possible chance.

The Conservative regime has misspent public funds and wasted money on initiatives which do not promote positive outcomes for our children and in particular our most disadvantaged. I’ve witnessed this throughout my teaching career and quite simply, May 6th represents our community with one of the greatest opportunities to usher in a change for the good of the town.”